MUSICAL REVIEW: Mary Poppins ★★★★★

Mary Poppins
Birmingham Hippodrome
Friday 22nd April 2016

Based on the 1964 Walt Disney Musical, and the stories of P.L Travers, this Cameron Mackintosh musical production of Mary Poppins is set around London and focuses on the Banks Family, which features Mother and Wife Winifred (Rebecca Lock), Husband and Father George (Milo Twomey) and their two children Jane and Michael, who were played by Maia West and Santiago Weston respectfully on the evening on this specific performance. As George is a hard-working husband who has just had a promotion, and Winifred is trying to get back into acting, they are constantly having to find nannies who fit the bill that can then look after Jane and Michael, but they go through so many due to the pressure, until a certain lady with an Umbrella shows up, Mary Poppins, portrayed marvellously by Zizi Strallen.

Now I thoroughly enjoyed this spellbinding production from start to finish, especially with the movie being such an iconic part of my childhood, this musical perfectly brought all the magic, lights, and foot tapping songs straight from screen to stage, with some newly added songs mixed in for further enjoyment, like Precision and Order, and Practically Perfect, but it was the routine for Step in Time that had my jaw dropping throughout. Now Matt Lee, who was portraying Bert in the Musical, was a phenomenal actor in the role, who just burst with energy, charm and charisma in his character, but his tap moves and routines in Step in Time were genuinely incredible, as were all of the ensemble in the song playing chimney sweepers. His move when he walk over the whole proscenium was the real highlight though, which of course was received by an uproar of applause.

Now Zizi and Matt’s chemistry on stage is also something that should be applauded too, especially how fresh their characters in particular felt when sharing scenes together, even more considering they had been already in Birmingham for 6 weeks previously to me watching. As well as the acting and songs though, one thing that really above all else that had me in awe was the sheer creativity of the sets and costumes in the show. Take Fair Park for example, to which in the song ‘Jolly Holiday’ gets completely transformed from the normal everyday park to a vibrant and colourful wonderland, just from the strokes of a brush from Bert’s painting. Another set piece I also want to just touch on is the Bank, to which George works in; now this was just a simple backdrop, but the way it was presented at an angle, so from the audience you were looking at it almost like you were lying on the floor, was beautifully designed and had me afterwards just constantly referring to it to friends who I spoke to about the production.

Overall, Mary Poppins was a slick, sheer delightful experience and evening at the theatre, which has had me humming Chim-Chim-Cher-ee since watching, and as always, completely urge anyone who can reach one of the remaining destinations on the tour, to go down and watch, and if you were like me and was hoping that she would somehow fly out into the audience, then giving nothing away, you will you leave the theatre with a massive smile on your face!


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